Badgers make adjustments, earn series split

first_imgAfter recording just one run on four hits in the first game of its doubleheader against North Dakota State, the University of Wisconsin softball team was able to alter its approach in Game 2 and hold off the Bison.NDSU pitcher Allison Bakke demonstrated exactly why she is the ace of the Bison staff, as she kept Wisconsin’s hitters uncomfortable and off-balance for the entirety of Game 1. Bakke notched seven strikeouts in her complete game effort, and at one point sat down 14 UW hitters in a row before centerfielder Sam Polito reached on an infield single.Throughout the first contest, Bakke was able to rely on her changeup whenever she found herself behind in the count, which resulted in several foul balls and weak groundouts off the Badgers’ bats. In counts where UW hitters would normally be able to sit on a fastball, Bakke would go off-speed and catch Wisconsin unprepared.”Her changeup was pretty fat,” third baseman Athena Vasquez said. “But we weren’t reacting to it; we weren’t seeing it.”Junior right fielder Katie Hnatyk agreed that Bakke’s changeup was a tough pitch to hit, but that wasn’t why UW had a tough time hitting it.”We were just thinking way too much,” Hnatyk said. “She had the changeup, we knew she had the changeup, and we were thinking about it way too much instead of just reacting to it.”And UW head coach Chandelle Schulte didn’t pull any punches when asked about her team’s initial performance.”Our first game was terrible,” Schulte said. “We didn’t adjust at the plate, and we gave up too many runs. We have to show up and play, and we didn’t, and we’re going to get beat every time if we do that.”But it wasn’t only Bakke’s changeup that left Wisconsin hitters shaking their heads.”It was everything,” Schulte said. “But we knew that coming in. She’s got a really good ERA, and she’s got the record, but it was the changeup, and it was the curveball. She threw a nice mix.”Following the Game 1 loss, Schulte gathered her squad in the locker room for what some would call “constructive criticism” of their collective hitting approach.Whatever the course of discussion took, Wisconsin looked like a completely different team in the second half of the doubleheader. Allison Bakke was in the circle again for the Bison, but she wouldn’t stay there for long. After Athena Vasquez reached base on an error in the bottom of the second inning, Ricci Robben tagged Bakke for a two-run home run to deep left-center, giving the Badgers a 2-0 lead. Bakke got out of the inning with no further damage, but didn’t return for the third.The third inning saw UW continue its offensive onslaught against a new face in the circle, ND State pitcher Bekki Rasmussen. It was a tough day for Rasmussen, as she surrendered four consecutive singles to begin the inning, and was yanked before recording an out. The Badgers totaled four runs in the frame, including one on a suicide squeeze executed to perfection by first baseman Alexis Garcia.”I knew they’d come out and start [Bakke],” Schulte said. “I would have. But we hit her early, and we made better adjustments.”Badger pitchers Letty Olivarez and Leah Vanevenhoven were able to shut the Bison down from there, but the two-run jack from Ricci Robben proved to make the difference for Wisconsin. “It was huge because Ricci came up in the first game with runners on first and second twice with two outs and didn’t put the ball in play,” Schulte said. “Most kids wouldn’t be able to come back in that same situation. To me [the difference] was mental fortitude.”It was good because we got the run,” Schulte added, “but it was more important because mentally, she was committed to getting it done.”Robben added a double in the fifth and finished the game 2-for-3 at the plate. “I was seeing [the ball] a lot better than the first game,” Robben said. “I knew what [Bakke] was going to throw me, and I just sat and waited for my pitch.”last_img

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